Module code: EN3147

Module co-ordinator: Professor Philip Shaw

This module will further your knowledge and understanding of Romanticism, an artistic movement justly celebrated for its stylistic virtuosity; its intelligent treatment of complex sociopolitical, philosophical, and religious themes; and its ability to challenge readers into a wider understanding of the nature and scope of human experience.

You will:

  • Consider a range of works from the period, including long poems, novels, paintings, and journalism
  • Compare and contrast works by two or more authors (special emphasis will be placed on Wordsworth and Byron) and to examine alternate passages from manuscript sources
  • Compare and contrast poetic forms (the ode, the epic, the pastoral, the romance)
  • Reflect on the relations between text and context and on recent critical approaches

The module will invite you to think about a variety of complex attitudes and ideas while developing your skills in critical analysis; comprehension; and accessing, retrieving, and presenting information.


During our weekly seminars, we will discuss a wide range of poetry, novels, visual media, and shorter prose writings and reflect on the formal, historical, and conceptual forces that shaped the Romantic period. Authors to be studied include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hazlitt, Godwin, Austen, and De Quincey. In addition to these primary texts, you will be expected to read a broad selection of literary criticism. There will also be opportunities to study at least one painter and/or visual movement and to consider Romanticism in its wider European context.

Students are required to participate in seminar discussions and to present at least one ten-minute oral presentation (non-assessed), which may take the form of a close reading of a Romantic work or a review of a significant work of criticism. Throughout, close attention will be paid to textual detail and to attendant problems of interpretation.

Students undertaking this module will become adept at evaluating a body of work that insists, to invoke Wordsworth, on keeping its audience 'fit'. As Romantic writers, painters, and thinkers are unflinching in their querying of established truths and habitual modes of expression, readers must learn to reciprocate this challenge. 

Specifically, the module will enable you to...

  • Read, think, talk, and write about Romantic works with greater confidence, sophistication, and rigour
  • Be aware of the relations between texts and sociohistorical and intellectual contexts
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of poetic forms
  • Become adept at comparing and contrasting works by different authors
  • Analyse texts with independent judgement and with a critical grasp of appropriate secondary material
  • Develop and sustain a complex argument
  • Access, organise, and present information to a satisfactory level in both oral and written contexts


  • A 5,000-word essay